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Science Monitor: 16 January 2021

Science Monitor: 16 January 2021


1. CSIR-National Institute of Science Communication and Policy Research (NIScPR)


On the 14th of January, Union Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan inaugurated CSIR-National Institute of Science, Communication and Policy Research (NIScPR) has been formed by merging National Institute of Science Communication and Information Resources (NISCAIR) and National Institute of Science, Technology and Development Studies (NISTADS), two former veteran institutes of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). Now, both of these institutes have been working at the interface of S&T and society and science communication. The new institute has the vison to become a globally respected think tank and a resource centre for understanding STI policy research and communication.

About the institute:

  • The expertise and strength of both the institutes will help NIScPR to adopt a new vision and to meet the new expectations.
  • CSIR-NISCAIR was a frontier institute in science communication and published science magazines and science journals was also managing the oldest national science library in the country and was also the custodian of the National Knowledge Resource Consortium.
  • Similarly, CSIR-NISTADS was known for its research and S&T policy. Over the years, it gained rich experience in the area of the history of science, S&T and society and has accomplished many related projects. Both these institutes were working at the interface of S&T and society and science communication.
  • The new institute will strive to become a globally respected think tank and resource centre for understanding science technology and innovation policy research and communication. The institute will also do the same among diverse stakeholders and act as a bridge at the interface of science, technology, industry and society.
  • The GoI promotes minimum government and maximum governance. Under this approach, institutions with similar objectives are being merged to increase their functionality and outcomes. NIScPR has also been established to define and achieve new positioning.

2. IIT Guwahati research on neutrino and supernova

Context:Important clues into cause and process of death of stars revealed by IIT  Guwahati researchers - The Financial Express

In a significant development, researchers from the IIT, Guwahati in collaboration with researchers representing reputed institutes of Germany and USA have revealed important clues to understand the depth of massive stars. According to the researchers, the findings of their first of its kind simulation studies have revealed the problems with the existing supernovae models and therefore, a new approach should be adopted to understand the mechanism of supernova.

About this development:

  • When a massive star runs out of its fuel, it collapses under its own gravity and results in an immense shock wave. This shock waves give rise to a huge and luminous explosion called ‘Supernova’. For astrophysicists, this event is of particular interest as such explosions are considered to be the cradle of birth for new stars and also for the synthesis of heavy elements in nature.
  • But, the mechanism of these super explosion is not yet completely understood and has remained one of the enigmas of the universe. However, scientists think that this mechanism can be understood by studying the tiniest subatomic particles called neutrinos which are released during a Supernova in large numbers.
  • Neutrino is actually a neutral subatomic particle with a negligible mass, it is very much like an electron but it does not have any charge. Considered to be one of the basic building blocks of our universe. Neutrinos exist in three forms of flavors-Electron Neutrino, Muon Neutrino and Tau Neutrino and during a Supernovae explosion, neutrinos of all flavors or types are emitted in a large number and with a powerful flux.
  • Till now, for studying the process of Supernova explosion and the accompanying neutrino emission in a simpler way, scientists have been classifying neutrinos in two groups- Electron Neutrino and Non-electron Neutrino, which clubs Muon and Tau Neutrino as one, as scientists assume that, these neutrinos are identical as they have identical fluxes, but according to researchers belonging to the Department of Physics at IIT, Guwahati and their co-researchers this assumption is not right as many studies show that under high density, neutrinos can change forms or flavors which means Electron Neutrino can become Muon Neutrino and Muon Neutrino can become Electron Neutrino at a very high rate.
  • Researchers from IIT, Guwahati collaborated with researchers of Max Planck Institute for Physics, Munich, Germany and Northwestern University of USA abandoned the usual two-flavor approach. They performed non-linear simulation of the fast flavor convergence including all the three types of neutrinos inside the supernova.
  • They demonstrated with their study that inside the supernova, non-electron neutrinos can have different fluxes and therefore, one needs to considered all neutrinos as separate entities to study supernovae precisely.
  • According to the researchers three-flavor studies change the results dramatically in comparison to the existing two-flavor results. This can have major implications for particle and astrophysics of supernovae neutrinos. The study has been published in the journal ‘Physical Review Letters’.

3. Standing wheelchair Arise


Last month, during the DST CII Technology Summit, conducted by the Department of Science and Technology, GoI, the IIT, Madras was declared the most innovative institute of 2020 for its disruptive innovations. The institute was awarded for its exceptional innovations in the field of healthcare, technology and several other sectors. One of these innovations was India’s first standing wheel chair called Arise.

About the innovation:

  • The invention of the wheel chair eased the life of many differently abled persons, but it had its limits, though the users could move independently in a seated position yet they needed frequent assistance whenever they needed to stand.
  • To address this problem, many developed countries improved upon the conventional wheelchairs using modern technology and developed standing wheelchairs. These wheelchairs enabled the users to stand independently but they were beyond the budget of common Indian citizen as they were imported.
  • Therefore, empathizing of the differently abled and aiming to provide affordable technology to all, researchers from the IIT, Madras designed and developed India’s first standing wheelchair. The affordable device was aptly named as Arise and launched at the IIT, Madras research park in Chennai.
  • The TTK Center for Rehabilitation Research & Device Development also known as R2D2 has designed and developed ARISE under the supervision IIT’s Department of Mechanical Engineering. Arise has hand operated linkage-based mechanism, that enables the users to sit and stand independently in a controlled manner and a gas string reduces the efforts expended by the user.
  • The wheelchair not only makes the user independent in many ways but also aids in reducing the wheelchair associated health problems like poor blood circulation and pressure source. The wheelchair comes in different sizes and provides adequate safety.
  • Wellcome UK provide support to commercialize the technology through an affordable healthcare in India award which brought together IIT Madras and the manufacturing partner of Arise, Phoenix Medical Systems.
  • NGOs, Hospitals, rehabilitation centers, users and physicians were consulted during the development of this wheelchair. Keeping in mind the Indian users, its mechanical complexity has also been reduced. This equipment works in urban as well as rural setups. Undoubtedly, this innovation by Indian engineers makes the users self-reliant in daily chores and improves the access to various sectors.


 1. First phase of vaccination to start on January 16th: